Eat Your Way to a Younger Biological Age

We are what we eat. We’ve all heard about how crucial nutrition is for our health, but is it possible to improve our biological age with food?

According to this study [1]  by Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, leading expert in epigenetics and functional medicine physician, it certainly is!

In the study, participants were required to consume these weekly:

  • 2 cups dark, leafy greens (eg: kale, spinach, collard)
  • 2 cups cruciferous vegetables (eg: broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy)
  • 3 cups colourful vegetables (except white potatoes and sweetcorn) 
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 to 2 beets
  • Liver or liver supplement (three 3-ounce servings per week)
  • 1 serving of free range, organic eggs (5–10 per week)
  • 6 ounce organic, hormone/antibiotic free animal protein

They were also asked to eat more than one serving of methylation adaptogens daily. Methylation adaptogens are foods that support DNA methylation, a process that controls gene expression. Based on the study, recommended methylation adaptogens include:

  • ½ cup berries, preferably wild
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 2 cups green tea, brewed 10 minutes
  • 3 cups oolong tea, brewed 10 minutes
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • ½ tsp turmeric

Apart from that, participants were also asked to take probiotics and green powder.

But is food really everything?

Not quite. While nutrition is vital, it is only one of the many epigenetic switches.  To reverse our biological age, we need to consider other lifestyle factors such as sleep, stress and physical activity.

In the study, participants were also required to track the lifestyle changes that were prescribed. Some of them are: 

  • drinking 8 cups of water a day, 
  • exercising for at least 30 minutes daily, 
  • sleeping for 7 hours, 
  • practising breathing exercises twice a day and 
  • fasting for 12 hours after their last meal of the day.

What’s interesting is that participant adherence to the guidelines was only 80%, and yet they still garnered positive outcomes in regards to their biological age. This group of 6 women managed to bring down their biological age by an average of 4.6 years in just 2 weeks time.

Having breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.

Timing of meals also affects health outcomes. The cells in our body actually express clock genes and molecular clock activity. 

Aligning our dietary habits with our body’s natural circadian rhythms can promote improved metabolic function, hormonal balance, weight management, and overall health. In the long run, this will also improve our biological age.

Time restricted feeding (TRF) is a dietary approach that involves limiting the time window during which an individual consumes their meals, similar to the concept of intermittent fasting. The difference is that it optimizes circadian elements by extending a person’s nightly fast to 12 hours or more.

Another study [2] shows that groups that prioritized breakfast and ate more at the start of the day resulted in greater reduction in weight loss, LDL cholesterol, fasting glucose, and insulin resistance compared to groups with later intakes (during the evening). 

Glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity is lower in the evening, and eating during that period of time puts one at an increased risk of metabolic dysfunction, which may affect biological age negatively. 

Now equipped with the knowledge of the recommended food and meal times, you can start taking significant strides towards achieving a better, healthier version of yourself – and reverse your biological age too! 

References

1. Fitzgerald, K. N., Campbell, T., Makarem, S., & Hodges, R. (2023, March 22). Potential reversal of biological age in women following an 8-week methylation-supportive diet and lifestyle program: a case series. Aging, 15(6), 1833–1839. https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.204602

2. Young, I. E., Poobalan, A., Steinbeck, K., O’Connor, H. T., & Parker, H. M. (2022, December 18). Distribution of energy intake across the day and weight loss: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Obesity Reviews, 24(3). https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.13537

3. Mason, I. C., Qian, J., Adler, G. K., & Scheer, F. A. J. L. (2020, January 8). Impact of circadian disruption on glucose metabolism: implications for type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia, 63(3), 462–472. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-019-05059-6

4. Vujović, N., Piron, M. J., Qian, J., Chellappa, S. L., Nedeltcheva, A., Barr, D., Heng, S. W., Kerlin, K., Srivastav, S., Wang, W., Shoji, B., Garaulet, M., Brady, M. J., & Scheer, F. A. (2022, October). Late isocaloric eating increases hunger, decreases energy expenditure, and modifies metabolic pathways in adults with overweight and obesity. Cell Metabolism, 34(10), 1486-1498.e7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2022.09.007

Functional medicine Malaysia doctor

Author:
Dr. Shirley Koeh
Date:
02 August 2023

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